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May 17, 2017

NEWARK, NJ --  NJ TRANSIT has taken another step toward improving service reliability on the Northeast Corridor by moving forward with the Portal Bridge North Project and entering into an early action construction contract award.




At today’s Board of Directors’ meeting, the Board authorized a vote to enter into an early action contract with PKF-Mark III Inc., of Newtown, Pa., for the amount of $14.5 million, plus five percent for contingencies, subject to the availability of funds.




“The Board of Directors has chosen to enter into an early action contract with a vendor to help move the Portal Bridge North project to the next milestone,’’ said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Steven H. Santoro. “This is a critical step forward in improving service reliability for NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak customers along the heavily traveled Northeast Corridor.’’




The Early Action Construction project includes the realignment of a 138kV transmission pole, the installation of new fiber optic cable poles, the construction of a construction access structure known as a finger pier, the construction of a steel bridge structure over the Jersey City Municipal Utility Authority water main, and the construction of a retaining wall just west of the Frank R. Lautenberg Station at Secaucus Junction.




The Portal Bridge is a two-track movable swing span railroad bridge over the Hackensack River between Kearny and Secaucus in Hudson County and was constructed more than a century ago. The bridge, owned by Amtrak, is a critical link on the Northeast Corridor. Delays due to bridge failures, maintenance and reduced operational speeds have made replacement of the bridge critical to maintaining and improving passenger rail service into Manhattan.




“The award of this contract is an important milestone for the replacement of the existing Portal Bridge, a key part of the Gateway Program’s first phase,” said Gateway Program Development Corporation Trustee Rich Bagger. The Gateway Program Development Corporation is an agency that has been established to guide the project to completion. “The New Jersey/NJ TRANSIT commitment to advancing this early work will ensure that the Gateway Program stays on track to reach our goal of delivering much needed improvements to the commuters and travelers along the Northeast Corridor.”




The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has approved a project to both replace the existing bridge and expand capacity in the Corridor by constructing a new parallel span north of the existing structure. The two-track replacement bridge, known as Portal Bridge North, is designed as a high-level fixed span bridge eliminating the movable component and risk of malfunction.




“With this action, the long overdue Portal Bridge North replacement is underway.  We have not a minute to lose on this urgently needed project and today’s news is another demonstration of how a Federal-Local partnership can eliminate this single point of failure,’’ said John Porcari, interim executive director of the Gateway Program Development Corp.




The project will greatly improve service reliability for NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak trains. This Early Action construction phase will support the acceleration of the Portal Bridge North construction schedule.




In October 2015, NJ TRANSIT was notified that the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) had awarded $16 million under the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant program. This $16 million grant will be matched with $4 million from the Transportation Trust Fund, which will be used to support the Early Action Construction work contemplated in this authorization.




Work is expected to begin in July and is anticipated to be completed by the first-quarter of 2019. 






NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing more than 944,000 weekday trips on 255 bus routes, three light rail lines, 12 commuter rail lines and through Access Link paratransit service. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 166 rail stations, 62 light rail stations and more than 18,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.